Matt Vensel is in his first year at the Star Tribune after covering the Ravens for the Baltimore Sun for six years. He is a Pittsburgh native and a Penn State grad. Follow him at @mattvensel.


Mark Craig has covered the NFL for 23 years, and the Vikings since 2003 for the Star Tribune. He is one of 44 Pro Football Hall of Fame selectors. Follow him at @markcraignfl.


Master Tesfatsion is the Star Tribune’s digital Vikings writer. He is a 2013 graduate of Arizona State and worked for mlb.com before arriving in Minneapolis. Follow him at @masterstrib.


Vikings lead 14-13 at halftime

Posted by: Mark Craig under Lions Updated: September 8, 2013 - 1:43 PM

DETROIT -- Some thoughts on the Vikings heading into the second half of a wild and sloppy season opener at Ford Field ...

Score: Vikings 14, Lions 13.

The good: You really can't make this stuff up. A year after winning league MVP with 2,097 yards and then telling the world his goal is to rush for a record-shattering 2,500 more this season, Adrian Peterson takes the first offensive snap of the season, gets a good block from fullback Rhett Ellison, sidesteps a fallen Lions defender in the hole and goes 78 yards for a touchdown. Christian Ponder led 7-0. Also of note, Ponder hitting Jerome Simpson on a 44-yard pass down the right sideline to the Detroit 4-yard line to set up Peterson's second touchdown of the game.

The bad: Ponder throwing an ill-advised ball while being pressured to his left. As he threw it, Ndamukong Suh hit his arm, making it an easy pick downfield for Stephen Tulloch. Ponder's other pick was more Simpson's fault. Simpson had the ball go off his hands on a slant route.

The ugly: The Lions are living down to their reputation of being one of the league's most undisciplined teams. They should be winning this one in a blowout, but let us count the ways they've handed this game to the Vikings: 1, They dropped a hold on a 31-yard field goal attempt. 2, They've dropped three passes, including a 20-yard touchdown by Calvin Johnson that was overturned on review. 3, They had a holding penalty on a fourth-and-1 conversion in the red zone. 4, Suh cut blocked center John Sullivan, negating a pick-six by linebacker DeAndre Levy. 5, Cornerback Bill Bentley dropped a sure pick-six.

What have we learned so far?: The Lions are still talented but sloppy. The Vikings are still a team that needs Ponder to step up even on days when Peterson runs for 78-yard touchdowns.

What needs to happen in the second half?: The Vikings need to settle down and re-establish the running game. The Vikings had 78 yards after their first carry. They now have 71 yards Peterson has 70 on eight carries, meaning he has seven for minus-8 yards since the touchdown. But the Vikings can't abandon the run. Peterson needs to see the ball more in the second half to calm this wild game down.

 

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